On July 20 & 19, 2010 it was the 306th anniversary of the birth of Francesco Petrarch in Arezzo, Italy and the 236th anniversary of his death in Arqua near Padua Italy 70 years later.
Petrarca will feature prominently in my life over the next few years, and I am finding him a fascinating man to get to know. Aside from his romantic tale of woe, as re-told briefly in Grace Awakening, he was a significant intellect of his time. It was his interest in Classical studies that ushered in the Renaissance. He was the one that coined the term, “The Dark Ages” for the Medieval period when men of intellect stopped studying the classics and lost themselves in church pronouncements and reinterpretations of history. His writings were used to establish the language rules for modern Italian. He was declared the Poet Laureate of Rome in 1341 when he was only 35 years old. His name is attached to the sonnet form he developed: the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet.
As Petrarca travelled around Italy and France, he collected the finest library in Christendom, one fought over after his death. Here is a man who loved learning, celebrated travelling for new experiences, delved into history to better understand himself, climbed mountains for the aestetic of seeing the view at the top, struggled with faith, and loved purely with a devotion that was stronger than death.
One of the most wonderful (and challenging) things about Petrarca is that he was a prolific writer. He wrote volumes and volumes about his life, his thoughts, and his beliefs. He wrote poetry about his love. He wrote biographies of those he admired. He wrote letters to his friends. Most of his writings survive, because his genius was well-recognised at the time. There is a lot of material to go through!
As I unfold the layers of his life, I hope that I can do justice to the story and that the embellishments I bring will be worthy of him. He is surprising and amazing me at every turn. It’s not going to be a quick book to write. I have 70 years of writings to work through and tons of things to learn about the time and place. I just hope this amazing man will captivate you when I am finally able to introduce you to him in a few years.